Monthly Archives: April 2012

I don’t hate you, I’m just low maintenance

Let me list some characteristics of potential friend here, tell me what you think about someone like this, or if this reminds you of anyone:

  1. Never calls you.
  2. Is rarely on Facebook/Twitter/Google+, and never uses their chat functions.
  3. Will respond to about 1 in 5 invites to ‘do something’ (1 in 10 if they’re online invites).
  4. When asked what they like to do or if they like to go out, they respond with noncommittal “meh”.
  5. Doesn’t fill you in on events in their life unless you explicitly ask about said event.

Doesn’t sound like much of a friend . . . but wait! What if these are also true:

  1. When person finally calls you both pick up right where you left off.
  2. When you do manage to connect on some social network the interactions seem very substantial.
  3. Will randomly inform you of things they think you might like, right out of the blue, and you actually like said things.
  4. When you’re in trouble this person is there for you, either in person or at least emotionally, no questions asked, no judgment.
  5.  Somehow knows what has been up with you even though you don’t know what’s been up with them.

Ring any bells? Maybe an old college or high school buddy? Past work associate?

If so, let me be the first to congratulate you on having a low maintenance friend, or LMF.

You see, LMFs are a unique breed of friend. They’re like friendship camels.

Let me explain-most friends are like dogs or cats. With dogs, they are loyal, great companions, will do all kinds of stupid stuff with you just because they like hanging around you. However, their attention span is a tad short at times.  If you don’t put a certain baseline effort into the relationship the next thing you know there are holes all over your backyard, a hole under the fence, and the dog is out getting into all kinds of other mischief without you.

Doggie do
You're bored?

With cat friends you may care about them a lot, but it seems like the relationship is never quite equal. They come to you when they want to, no matter how much you call them. Sometimes they’ll come to you, but you tend to notice it’s when you have something they want. Otherwise they’re kinda indifferent to you, and if you don’t put in the work, they just mosey off and find something more comfortable for them.

Cats aren't cool Kyle
Typical.

Not so with LMFs. Like camels, they’re in it for the long haul. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly large gaps of time that pass between the interactions. When they do finally connect with you it will be more than just a beer, it’ll be a talk about life, love, meaning, past, and futures. Also, they’re not afraid to cross the desert with you, to be there when you need them to be.

Camel friend.
Long time no see.

I happen to know because I am an LMF, and I have mostly LMFs. Birds of a feather tend to flock together, I guess (couldn’t resist another animal analogy). I probably don’t call you much. I probably don’t Facebook you much. I probably don’t email you too much. But I’m there when it counts most, for sure.

So look kindly on your own LMFs- sometimes we tend to put people off with our aloof nature. Sometimes we look like party poopers, or stick-in-the-muds. Rest assured though, we probably think about you more than you would guess, and our memories with you are cherished treasures for sure.

*Dedicated to all the LMFs I know (you’ll probably read this, see you next year).

-ASG

It’s getting real . . .

“The nature of things is change”

No matter how well I think I understand this statement it seems change has a way of sneaking up on me.

I’ve lived in Georgia my whole life. In fact, I lived in the same house until I was 18, and the same town until I was 23. My undergrad was at a local community college, and my graduate education was only 2 hours away from that. Now, I will be moving at the end of July.

I always knew this day would come. As a kid one of my favorite movies was Home Alone. It’s still in my top 20 (okay, top 10). I loved the silliness of it for sure, especially when Harry (Joe Pesci) gets blow-torched (that sounds MUCH more morbid when you can’t see it). But I always loved the scenery of the movie, particularly the snow. I thought it would be cool to live up north (something I didn’t say out loud in the South) and actually have a white Christmas. Now I will.

As of April 15th I am officially a PhD student at a university in New York state. And just yesterday I got this in the mail, along with a welcome packet.

Student Handbook
It was all yellow.

So it’s getting real. I’ve already been to check out some places to live, and it felt kinda real then. But now, it’s real. I’ll be moving, along with my wife, to somewhere I’ve never lived before in a region I’ve never lived before. Craziness.

Even though we won’t be moving until the end of July, we’ve started packing, and sorting, and throwing-away all the stuff we don’t want anymore. And I couldn’t be more excited.

It’s gonna be hard to leave my family behind, but it won’t be forever. In the mean time, we’ll get to experience a whole new place, make all new friends, and live a completely new life.

The weirdest part is that this is all a culmination of several years of working and wishing. I did 4+ years of a B.S. degree in Psychology, then got an M.Ed. in Professional Counseling. In the hyper-competitive world of PhD applications I was able to squeak by and get 1 in 7 spot at a top-notch program. It all seemed kind of like a dream. Even after I got the acceptance it didn’t seem real . . . in the back of my mind I wondered if I would get an “oops-we-made-a-mistake-sucks-for-you” call or email. But instead I got a welcome packet.

I had help from numerous people along the way. Advisors. Mentors. Professors. Family. Friends. And this site. So now, after being a seeker of help I want to be able to extend some. I think I am going to make a series of posts about getting into a Counseling Psychology PhD program, maybe even including some resources (not that anybody reads this other than my immediate family).

There wasn’t much of a reason for this post. Just a lazy Sunday afternoon, some spare time, some spare emotions, and my wife discovering that Teen Mom is on Netflix (I can’t stand that show).  I hope you are enjoying your change as much as I am mine.

-ASG

Prevention is a car crash

So . . . I have this idea. Read it all before you get angry.

It goes like this- I am tired of having to pay the extra cost for a seat belt every time I buy a car. I mean, I know they supposedly prevent injuries, but everyone knows you can’t prove prevention. I mean, you’d have to be able to view alternate realities or something to say that, with absolute certainty, a seat belt prevented a specific injury in a specific crash.

And, for that matter, air bags too. I mean, c’mon  . . . in this nation of vanity we live in do we actually need inflatable pillows to save our precious faces? How vain. Imagine the amount of money car manufacturers could save by not including these so-called “safety” devices. I’d bet millions, maybe billions over time.

Really, the money should go into more important things . . . like paying for the bills of people injured in wrecks, especially those people who were in vehicles that did not have air bags or seat belts. I mean, these people are injured or dying . . . right now! Why waste the money on preventing injuries that, in all honesty, no one can truly predict, when we have people suffering in the present? Not to mention the years of physical therapy that car crash injuries might need. I’m sure if we just stopped putting in seat belts and airbags  we could pay off the bills for everyone in the hospital right this moment.

Phew . . . it’s a good thing we really aren’t as stupid as all that . . . or are we?

Imagine if I replaced all the above instances of air bags and seat belts with preventative measures for reducing drug abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, generational poverty, mental illness, family violence, depression, anxiety, etc, etc, etc. That is the reality of our present situation. Effective family interventions, individual and family therapy, and preventative programs exist for all of the above. Yet, no one supports them. Not insurance. Not government. Rarely do religious groups. In fact, most people think that these preventative measures are fluff programs, only to be used/funded when extra money is handy (and we all know that is hardly ever the case).

I sometimes wonder, as a practicing therapist, how much money would be saved if insurance, government, businesses, etc., would step up and provide preventative treatments for clientele. How much money would be saved by breaking the poverty cycle when a child is young or if a drug offender could be kept out of prison for a lifetime. I wonder what benefit our economy would have from more people being more engaged in the workplace not zombified on psycho-pharmaceuticals, not simply just getting by due to depression or anxiety.

Investment in preventative programs is minimal. The agency I work at spends, on average $11 per client, and that is for all services, not just preventative ones. A recent quote I saw put the California spending per inmate at $47,000 per year.  I wonder what half of that type of money would do for a family in crisis, or a student from a broken home headed for substance abuse or gang life, or for a young child who has never been outside his/her impoverished community.

Not to mention the human suffering. Children neglected because of the addictions of the parents. Gang related deaths. Children suffering in silence through sexual abuse of strangers, friends, and family. The list goes on . . .

Of course I believe in the use of seat belts and airbags, their benefit is undeniable. To even say “believe in” when talking about such measures almost sounds funny because it is so concretely apparent that, belief or no belief, seat belts and air bags do far more good than not having them at all.

Yet, people still don’t “believe in” various forms of therapy, community interventions, etc., despite the overwhelming empirical and statistical evidence that they work. I would argue that they often cost less than implementing programs after the fact. Recovery is always a slow process, but prevention almost never is.

What gives? How many more children have to be sexually abused? How many more mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters have to die of an overdose?

Do we really prefer to pay for the surgeries when a simple seat belt would suffice?

-ASG